Fighting Childhood Cancer
Supporting Families and Funding DIPG DMG Research
2gether in honor of Jace Ward & our Founding Families
We are on a mission to find 300 very special people this month to pledge at least $11 per month for one year. That $40,000 will support important goals of Tough2gether including support for families, the Hope & Healing Grief Retreat AND begin our work on an N of 1 observational clinical trial to learn all we can from each child to better inform research.
February brings back all kinds of memories within Tough2gether. It was 2021 when Jace went to the Super Bowl to watch his beloved Chiefs and made sure to send photos holding child after child's photo home to their parents who would never see their child attend the Big Game. Childhood Cancer, and in particular is cruel. For children and young adults diagnosed with DIPG, an immediate 100% terminal diagnosis with a nine to eleven month life expectency, nothing will ever be the same again. They lose their walk, talk, swallow and voice. Over time they will become locked in their bodies but will never lose their full understanding of everything happening to them.
In February 2021, Jace started this fund which is now almost 75% fully funded with online gifts! On February 18, 2024 Jace with be 25 years old in Heaven. We're flooded with many memories of birthdays past, as we work desperately to give more birthdays to many children in the fight. It is also the birthday, diagnosis date, or heavenly anniversary date of many children of our Founding Families.
Jace Ward founded Tough2gether after being diagnosed with DIPG on May 17, 2019. He was 20 years old and given 9 months to live. He heard "inoperable, aggressive, terminal" as he explained his new double vision to a neurologist. A shocking diagnosis to an otherwise extremely healthy young man with his sights set on law school and entrepreneurship. "I can't die, I'm busy" became his mantra.
A few months later he met Hadley Schmidt, a 7 year old who looked at him with wide eyes understanding they had the same tumor. He found his purpose, it would be to speak for those who had not found their voice. It would be to help change the norm of parents looking for cures on facebook to creating a full patient continuum to precision care. It would be to fuel research and changes in policy while supporting other families fighting for their child's best chance to live. He would often say "We must make the circle bigger, we can never have enough bake sales to win this war."
In the process Jace met many families and many researchers. Together with his parents, Jace formed Tough2gether. In collaboration with many others, he learned all he could about Diffused Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas and Diffused Midline Gliomas, the most fatal pediatric brain cancer. Jace put into motion a DIPG Patient Continuum which now includes My DIPG Navigator, DIPG DMG National Brain Tumor Board, the collection of patient reported data, the BrainStorm Summit, Hope & Healing Family Grief Retreat and more. Our work is far from complete, but with YOUR help we strive EVERY day to move closer to treatments that heal.
Jace's life on earth ended July 3, 2021 but his mission to help the next child continues. In fact, since his diagnosis Tough2gether has assisted over 470 families. Many became Tough2gether Founding Families in January, 2024 when Tough2gether grew to 36 families strong.
Please read their stories and about the work we are doing at www.Tough2gether.org. These are incredible humans from age 3 to 30 who, with their families know DIPG and DMG must change. We want every family to have access to treatments, support from others who understand and connection to the best research, therapies and N of 1 options. We support and connect nearly daily with those on the front lines bringing these trials.
In September 2021. Jace's goal was to raise $1.2M for DIPG. Why $1.2M? Because it was the amount required for the trial he could not enter. His goal became to make sure the next child didn't need to fundraise to save their life. We continue his work to make the circle bigger and fight childhood cancer like lives depend on it, because they do.
We would be honored for you to join us with a monthly pledge or annual gift.
Roger and Lisa Ward and
the Tough2gether Founding Families